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The Hellfire Club

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3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  5,568 Ratings  ·  114 Reviews
They are dying, one by one: wealthy middle-aged women in an exclusive Connecticut suburb. Their murderer remains at large. Nora Chancel, wife of publishing scion Davey Chancel, fears she may be next. After all, her past has branded her a victim. . . .

Then Davey tells Nora a surreal story about the Hellfire Club, where, years before, he met an obsessed fan of Chancel Ho
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ebook, 485 pages
Published September 28th 2004 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 1996)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Holly
Apr 17, 2013 Holly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-books
My first Peter Straub novel and I loved it! Great read. I loved the story, and the characters were very well written. Highly recommended.

Edit: Just remembered that this was not my first PS novel. Lol
Lanie
Apr 26, 2016 Lanie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first read this in the late 90s. I remembered it as a fascinating mystery about an imaginary book. However, I reading it again I found both the book within the book and the mystery less interesting than I thought.

This time around it seemed to be about the different ways men abuse women. Some of the scenes of abuse are intensely disturbing.

The main character is Nora Chancel, middle aged, menopausal, everybody's victim. We see her suffer the bullying of her father in law, the carelessly cruelty
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Maciek
Althought the title suggest much, there is virtually nothing about the titular club in The Hellfire Club. It's one of many interesting themes which Straub piles one on another, but it is never really developed. The real star of this show is a book called Night Journey and a woman named Nora Chancel.

Almost baroque in in the excess of character, themes and plot threads that run through it, The Hellfire Club attempts to be many things but doesn't really succeed at any of them. A book about books, s
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Quill
Jun 09, 2013 Quill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Basics

Nora lives in an upscale suburb where it just so happens a serial killer is on the loose. The latest disappearance of a woman who leaves a blood-drenched bedroom behind has Nora more embroiled in these killings than she ever wanted to be. And it makes her a new target.

My Thoughts

That’s a really bad attempt at “The Basics" up there. Because all that was definitely true. The book is about a woman named Nora who comes face-to-face with a serial killer who makes her life hell. It’s also a
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Bandit
Sep 03, 2013 Bandit rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
On the heels of the author's really good novella Special Place, I was interested in checking out a full length novel of his. This might not have been the one to start with, but it was available at the library, so I read it. If I didn't know the two were written by the same author, I never would have guessed. Where one is succinct, the other one is verbose (and not just because of the difference in format), it just seemed like completely different writers. Hellfire Club is an exhausting read and ...more
Dany Wilson
Jul 25, 2011 Dany Wilson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well where to start? WOW! What a journey this book was!

Very-well written! It was my first book by Peter Straub and really had no clue at all who he was... I only knew he was a close friend and collaborator of Stephen King, and thought to my self "gosh another author who writes a book once a week about anything without any real sense" (p.s.: sorry for all of the King's fans).
The real reason why I wanted to read this book was because of an tv episode of the UK show "Most Haunted". The episode was
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Rob
Nov 30, 2009 Rob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Straub's novel is technically written superbly. His prose is clean and never calls attention to or gets in the way of his intricate plotting and sensory details. He really shows he can develop scenes that seamlessly compliment each other as a congruent whole. The writing never stacks up, but flows, which builds the suspense of this mystery story. The villain of the story is sketched to full evil. Hellfire Club proves that Peter Straub knows the craft of writing.
Evan
May 18, 2013 Evan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
Not a horror story.

When I try new novels like this one, it reminds me why half the time I just listen to Salem's Lot over again. But, I've listened to everything Stephen King has on audiobook, so I keep trying new titles by different authors.

This is my second novel by Peter Straub. Ghost Story was the first, which was actually a horror novel. I reread the jacket, and I feel like The Hellfire Club tries to portray itself as horror, so it only gets one star. I had hope in the beginning, but then
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Mary
May 18, 2008 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: thriller, crime
I actually read this because of The Talisman, which Straub co-wrote with Stephen King. As you can tell by looking over my reading history, I'm a bit of a King junkie, so it seemed natural that I should try out Peter Straub and see how I liked him.

Turns out that he's fucking awesome. I'd been in a little bit of a reading slump before picking up this book, and it has got me thoroughly back into reading. It's hard to describe because so many things happen, and I admit I was expecting something supe
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Amanda
Mar 26, 2012 Amanda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was recommended to me by my mother, and she said it was one of the most terrifying books that she had ever read in her entire life. So I was pretty excited, because my mom is usually pretty spot on about horror movies and books. But then I read it, and I got so absolutely bored with it. There was no real hook in the beginning and the twists were all predictable. You pretty much knew what was going to happen from fifty pages before it actually happened. I was very disappointed with this ...more
Raoul
Dec 13, 2012 Raoul rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am really struggling with his style.

"This stage of events was coming to an end. Nora remembered a sense of resolve, but could not remember what she had resolved to do. With the memory of her own determination came the return of renewed strength. She had resolved to act."

I keep on mistaking this for a trashy airport novel and I dont know why. I may bail out on this one unless it doesnt grab me somehow by page 100.

...

It's Xmas. There's so many better things to read and do.

Ditched.
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Tom
Jan 25, 2011 Tom rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Blah.
The thing about Straub that drives me nuts, is his buildup. Shadowlands was GREAT! if you could make it past the first 120 pages. I was hoping for the same with this one.
I was dissiapointed.
The only novel thing I enjoyed about this book are His subtle and not so subtle Mockery of Dean Koontz. Oddly enough, I also just finished "What the Night Knows" by Koontz and can see that the mockery is two sided. Koontz mocks straub as much as he mocks Koontz.
Scott Kleinpeter
Nov 16, 2014 Scott Kleinpeter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title is a lurid publishers trick, is my guess. The Hellfire Club is really only a minor plot element. The real mystery is what happened to an author in the 1930's and whether or not a manuscript was actually written by the man to whom it is ascribed.

As far as dark suspense novels, this one certainly has a husband's character you won't soon be able to get over how awful he is, and how patient his wife is. It's truly cringe-inducing.
Shannon
Mar 11, 2008 Shannon rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't finish this. I know I’m loosing the taste for certain genres, but I don’t think that was the whole reason I dropped it. It just didn’t read like Straub. The beginning did, because as always he loads us up with a whole lotta characters to juggle at once and try to figure out. But then the story just isn’t… good enough. It’s not… preternatural enough. It’s not… enough. Maybe next time.
Rachel
Apr 21, 2008 Rachel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: umm... bored people
So I was hoping this book would be about, you know, The Hellfire Club, since that is what it's called. There were only a couple of Hellfire Club scenes. Mostly it was just some crazy, nigh-invulnerable guy continually kidnapping and tormenting one woman. It had tense moments and was definitely the sort of thing you have to read to the end, but not great.
Jess
Aug 31, 2007 Jess rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: suspensemystery
I listened to this on audiobook during my commute. The plot had a number of interesting twists, but left a lot of loose ends undone. Also fairly disturbing subject matter, although not gratuitously violent or gory. The villian of the piece is way over the top - seemingly superhuman - but there's a wonderfully poetic ending to the final climax.
Gill
Jun 30, 2011 Gill rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Didn't enjoy this book at all - did well to stick it out to the end.
Not read this author before so was a little disapointed as I expected more.
Some bits of the book were exciting but far and few between. The majority was boring and I still don't quite understand where it was going.
Alan Nicholas
Like a child with limitless potential, but ADHD, the novel kept churning up to something big and never quite delivering. Not a bad read, but when you're 100 pages from the end and you can't decide if you like the novel or not, that's usually not a good sign.
Colleen
Feb 15, 2009 Colleen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read almost half of it, but it never got interesting, so I quit. Too many other books I want to read.
Pam
Aug 29, 2007 Pam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Straub writes like a dream, but sometimes the subject is just too vile. I didn't like (or care about) anyone in this book, but it was exceedingly well written.
Jeymei
Jun 16, 2012 Jeymei rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Peter Straub really is an awful author....I don't understand how he is so popular. This marks my last Straub book, unless I come across something really interesting.
Tina
Aug 22, 2009 Tina rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tried-to-read
Could not get into this one.
Jeremy
Jul 03, 2012 Jeremy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition


Awful.
Thelma
Apr 03, 2009 Thelma rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
BORING AS THE TITLE
Ghostradish
Jan 18, 2008 Ghostradish rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read this out of boredom while laid up with a broken elbow. Seriously not worth the effort.
C.
Jul 10, 2012 C. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While the saying goes “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” sometimes you can. For instance when I bought Peter Straub’s novel THE HELLFIRE CLUB in 1996. I knew as soon as I saw it this book was going to be a chore to read. And the 463 pages inside it weren’t helping. I bought the novel on the strength of KOKO, another Straub novel I’d just read a few years earlier. But no matter what I did, I just couldn’t bring myself to read it. I couldn’t say why that was, what it was specifically that seemed s ...more
Rob
Jan 06, 2017 Rob rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I think that's it for me with Peter Straub novels. I've read Ghost Story, A Dark Matter and now this and all 3 have left me with a feeling of what could have been. Straub has amazing ideas for plots, but somehow along the way the plot seems to get lost and we end up with a cobbled together ending that leaves plot threads dangling unanswered. Straub always does a great job of dragging you into a book by giving you a strange and mysterious start which pulls you in as you get drip-fed information a ...more
Un Lector Nocturno
My Spanish copy of this book has 557 pages, and I hated about 200 of them.
But Im not gonna lie, I liked the overall plot of the book. I think the villain was pretty good, and the moments he was with the protagonist were the best parts for me. I lost interest in the main mystery because there were so many descriptions that made my reading a really boring experience. and the fact that the author decided to put a lot of secondary characters that only exteded the story didnt help at all.
I know that
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Venessa
Oct 26, 2016 Venessa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As shockingly relevant today as it was when it was published in the late nineties, this book showcases Straub's strengths: clear storytelling that grows more psychologically terrifying as the novel advances to its inevitably horrifying ending. Nora Chancel battles the ghosts from her past as she faces the beginning of menopause and endures every kind of abuse at the hands of men from her husband's weakness and refusal to stand up for her to his bullying father to a brutal serial killer who it wi ...more
Jeanne Grunert
Feb 04, 2017 Jeanne Grunert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After a rough, slow, and confusing start, the book keeps you in suspense. Several reactions by the protagonist that I found implausible kept it from five stars. Warning to the squeamish: brutal rape scenes.
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Peter Straub was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on 2 March, 1943, the first of three sons of a salesman and a nurse. The salesman wanted him to become an athlete, the nurse thought he would do well as either a doctor or a Lutheran minister, but all he wanted to do was to learn to read.

When kindergarten turned out to be a stupefyingly banal disappointment devoted to cutting animal shapes out of heavy
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“She had been like a roller coaster aficionado for whom tame county fair roller coasters were as good as the ones that spun you upside down and dropped you so fast your eyes turned red. It was all just a ride.” 1 likes
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